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Racial inequality and the recognition of racial discrimination in Jamaica

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A growing body of literature posits that a population’s denial of the salience of racial discrimination acts as a mechanism of its perpetuation. Moreover, scholars locate a population’s propensity to deny racial discrimination in contemporary ideologies of racial mixing or ethnic fusion. Most quantitative studies of public opinion on these issues are limited to Latin America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. This study examines the case of Jamaica. We first (1) examine the extent of Jamaica’s contemporary racial inequality using national census data. We then (2) use nationally representative data from the AmericasBarometer social survey to determine the extent to which a recognition of racial discrimination characterizes Jamaican public opinion. Finally, we (3) explore the salience of an ideology of racial mixing in Jamaica and (4) test whether that ideology affects the likelihood that Jamaicans acknowledge contemporary racial discrimination. Our findings document dramatic social inequality by skin colour in Jamaica and suggest that a majority embrace an ideology that racial mixing is negatively associated with Jamaicans’ recognition of racial discrimination. We discuss our findings and their implications for understanding ideologies of racial mixing and racial inequality in the Americas.
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Keywords: Jamaican national identity; colour discrimination; ethnic oneness; mixing ideology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Sociology, University of California – Irvine, Irvine, CA, USA

Publication date: November 2, 2018

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